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 Committed to Giving Back

Susana Pelayo-Woodward, director of the UMD Office of Cultural Diversity with Yusuf Abdullah, UMD alumnus

Alumni of Color Alliance: Support on Many Levels

UMD alum Yusuf Abdullah is committed to giving back. He has helped to form the UMD Alumni of Color Alliance (ACA) and is now working to raise funds for a scholarship. The mission of the ACA is to provide a network of support to incoming and current students of color, to assist UMD in achieving a student population that is racially and ethnically diverse and to showcase the accomplishments of UMD alumni of color.

Abdullah said when he was a student, he benefited from the mentoring of UMD alum Harry Oden. After graduating in 1999, Abdullah worked as an admissions counselor at UMD for four years. There he became the mentor. He believes it is essential to provide access to students of color, to encourage them, give them guidance and "equip them for what life has to offer."

Susana Pelayo-Woodward, director of the UMD Office of Cultural Diversity and coordinator of the Multicultural Center, believes that the mentoring aspect of the ACA will be extremely beneficial to UMD students of color. Last year the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) invited Tania A. New, who works for Kraft Foods and is an LSBE alumna, to participate in their Professor for a Day program as part of their "Finding Success in the 21st Century Workforce" panel discussion. After the event, New met with multicultural students and shared her perspectives and insights. "Having alumni return to campus and meet with students is a great way for current students to make connections and to find role models," Pelayo-Woodward said.

The Office of Cultural Diversity invites alumni to numerous Multicultural Center events during the year. "It's important to reach out to alums. They have so much to offer current students," Pelayo-Woodward said. Upcoming events include the Soul Food Celebration (February 14), Fiesta (April 4) and the End of Year Recognition Reception. Ultimately Pelayo-Woodward would like to be able to work with the ACA to match alumni, working in a particular fields, with students who are interested in a career in those fields. Pelayo-Woodward is happy that the scholarship has developed so quickly. "It's a wonderful addition to the Alliance," she said.

For more information about the ACA, contact Susana Pelayo-Woodward at 218-726-8444. For information about making a gift to the ACA scholarship, contact the Office of Development at 218-726-7989, 866-726-7110 toll free, or visit

Visit the UMD Alumni of Color Alliance page on Facebook (you must join Facebook to view the page)

Visit the Visit the Multicultural Center website at

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann,

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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